AALL Southeastern Chapter TechTip: Trellis—A Game Changer for State Trial Court Research

The following article was written by Cynthia Barnes, Reference Librarian @ Barry University Law School, for the Southeastern Law Librarian Spring 2023 Newsletter. The publication is put out by the Southeastern Chapter of the American Association of Law Libraries (SEAALL).

“I am really excited to share this month’s tech tip on Trellis, https://trellis.law/, which is a comprehensive AI-powered state court research and analytics platform that was built by litigators for litigators. This article starts with a brief overview of Trellis features with links to Trellis’ Research Knowledge Base, which you can access without a subscription if you are interested in seeing more details. Then, I’ll share my thoughts on where Trellis fits in legal education and my customer service experience.

The Trellis platform currently contains data for 1,043 counties across 26 states, https://trellis.law/coverage. Trellis is planning to add Virginia, Vermont, South Dakota, and Tennessee in the second quarter of 2023. Trellis contains the following 7 features: Smart Search, Verdicts, Judge Analytics, Court Comparisons, Motions & Issues, State Rules, Daily Filing Report, and Trellis API.

Smart Search is where substantive legal research starts on Trellis’ platform. Searching is done on state trial court records, which includes the dockets, rulings, and documents filed in the case, across all the states in your subscription and across all counties. [https://support.trellis.law/what-is-smart-search]

Verdicts allow the searching of arbitration awards, verdicts, and mediated settlements in California and New York and then displays analytics visually as pie charts and bar graphs. [https://support.trellis.law/what-is-the-verdicts-tab-on-the-smart-search-results-page]

Judge Analytics provides publicly available subjective information about the judge, including career history, information about the court, links to articles about the judge and by the judge, and the court rules. Judge Analytics also provides visual displays of data and metrics to help you predict the likelihood of success of your motion or case. [https://support.trellis.law/what-types-of-judge-analytics-are-available]

Court Comparisons is a feature that is not available on any trial. However, during the demo, I was able to see how easily an analytical report can be generated to compare up to 3 counties. The analytical report looks at docket data and provides a visual display of case outcomes by practice area, motion grant rates by type, and case milestones, which is case closure timing analysis. Currently, this feature is available for 21 popular states and 294 popular counties. [https:// support.trellis.law/what-is-manage-company-users]

Motions & Issues is an area that serves as a nationwide brief bank where you can search filed documents by motion type or legal issue. The result of the search is a mini treatise with links to useful examples that thoroughly explain the motion or legal issue. [https://support.trellis.law/what-is-the-motions-issues-directory]

State Rules contain state laws, including codes, regulations, and statutes. Once a specific law is accessed by browsing then you can access documents that cite and analyze that specific law. [https://support.trellis.law/what-is-the-state-rules-library]

Daily Filing Report allows a law firm to stay on top of newly filed litigation in a jurisdiction. The daily file includes all the case metadata such as the judge, parties, counsel, practice area, and links to the full docket and complaint. [https://trellis.law/daily-filings-report]

Trellis API allows most data on the platform to be delivered via API. [https://trellis.law/legal-data-api]

My overall review can be summed up in one word, AMAZING! As a Six Sigma process expert and engineer, who has spent hours manipulating data in excel spreadsheets and writing Access database reports, I am amazed at how Trellis has harnessed technology to produce data analytics so easily and effortlessly. The first thing that I noticed is there are no limits on the number of results that are returned. Searching the entire database for “motion AND (“dismiss” OR “summary”) re￾turned 13.8 million documents, 5.4 million dockets (individual cases), 80K rulings, and 6.8K Verdicts. Once the initial search was done, I was able to filter the results using the filter options, which are typically found on the left side of the screen. I found the searching and filtering intuitive and easy to use because it is very similar to other legal research databases.

I was pleased to see Trellis kept the customary usage for the Boolean terms and connectors https://support.trellis.law/boolean-operators. In my opinion, the data analytics and access to state trial court documents can help any size law firm be more efficient and effective in the use of time and resources to complete tasks.

Incorporation Trellis in Legal Education: Let me start by saying Trellis, is not a replacement for Westlaw or Lexis, which contains Federal and Court of Appeals data, but a compliment because Trellis contains state trial court data. As a professor that teaches Advance Legal Research, I would incorporate Trellis in the course when I teach practical tools for attorneys. If I were teaching a first-year legal writing class, I would design the course around Trellis because the comprehensive brief bank contains documents that are more relevant for entry-level attorneys. If I were designing a brand new course around Trellis, it would focus on how to harness the power of the legal analytics to make business decisions.

Customer Service Experience far exceeded by expectations. When I decided to write this tech tip article on Trellis, I contacted Trellis to request access to their database in preparation for this article. Megan, an Academia Account Executive, was my first contact. During our initial call she listened to my requests and within a day granted me full access to the database instead of just one jurisdiction, which you get with a 14-day free trial, and connected me with Mike, the Marketing Director. When Megan transitioned to another role, she connected me with her replacement, J.C., who promptly followed up with me to schedule a demo of the Court Comparison feature. After the demo, J.C. sent me an example of the Court Comparison Analysis report and the Zoom recording. During the week before my article was due both Mike and J.C. reached out to see if I needed any additional information. Trellis’ commitment to the customer, or should I say potential customer, satisfaction was evident. I am honored to share Trellis with the SEAALL audience.”

To learn more about Trellis visit, http://www.trellis.law